Tuesday, March 17, 2009


bilk \bilk\, noun:
1. a trick; fraud; deceit
2. a cheat, swindler

The glass was in the center and I sat at one of the chairs, staring at it. You paced around me, making laps around and around me and the table. I was still young then. I picture the scene as if watching it on a television screen. My blond head of hair cropped short at the sides, the top just long enough to curl and flop. My arms rested at my sides. I can still feel how my hands were folded in my lap, slightly clammy, clenching and unclenching, the only part of my body that moved. My blue eyes rested in my unblemished face behind long, barely perceptible lashes, paying dutiful attention to the empty glass set in front of them, only raising themselves to glance at you quickly as you passed directly into their line of vision. But your own eyes never left my poised position. Still now as I picture this afternoon, I can feel the heat of your glare, my skin burning as if you'd laid a hand on me, the taut skin of your palm or the knobby bones of where your fingers met.
"Tell me what happened." The 't' of the first word out of your mouth held the sharp ping of a stone thrown, and I winced.
"You will tell me how this happened, Elliot." And you slammed the fleshy part of your fist onto the top of the table, causing even the cup to jump.
"Goddammit!" And you charged to some other part of the kitchen and came back to where I could see you, clenching the carton in your hand. You popped it open and poured quickly, angrily, and some of it got onto the tabletop. Then the chunks started to slip and slop, plop into the lake of off-white now filling the glass, causing more milk to splash out of the glass and onto the table.
It looked bad. It smelled bad. I resisted the urge to vomit.
And when the cup was almost filled to the brim, you said: "You will tell me what happened, Elliot, or I swear to GOD you are drinking this."
In my mind I can picture what I must have looked like, sitting so quietly while all of this was happening. I have to say it was one of my proudest moments. I looked at him, my big brother, feeling as much disgust for him as I did for the smell of that sour, stinking milk and his conniving girlfriend and her ugly, lying mouth, and I reached over, took the warm glass in my hand and chugged.